Pre-poo 101: Why you must do this every washday

If you were to ask me about what the most important part of my hair care routine is, I would, without a doubt say, "it's the pre-poo!" I value the pre-shampoo aspect of my weekly routine even more so than the deep conditioning. In fact, I attribute the pre-poo step to my miraculus victory over numerous setbacks over the past couple of years. It was after I amped up my pre-poo that visible results began to emerge. I'd like to share more about this wonderful journey with you if you don't mind....

I'd like to first begin by defining what I mean when I say pre-poo. Even though this term may be common place for some of you, there's still a ton of people who have no idea what the pre-poo is and why it's even important. Basically, pre-pooing is the act of applying conditioner, to dry hair, prior to the wash. The purpose of doing so is to prepare the hair for the shampoo/conditioning process.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's get to the nitty gritty......

What's the point of the pre-poo? You're just going to wash your hair anyway.
Yes it is true that the product applied during the pre-poo step is not only rinsed out, but washed out by your shampoo. Even with this being true, there's a whole heap of benefits to this process. First off, the wash routine is highly stressful on the hair. There's a ton of manipulation that tends to take place when we wash, deep condition and style the hair. Remember my post on protecting the cuticle layer? One of the biggest learnings, for me, when I researched articles for the post, was how much damage one can avoid to the cuticle layer by simply making sure the hair is conditioned before the excessive manipulation takes place. For me, the pre-poo step is the ultimate answer to the problem of wash day manipulation. Because of the pre-poo, my hair feels much less stripped after the wash. I don't know about you but I love the feeling of having clean, conditioned hair even before the deep conditioning step. By the time I've deep conditioned, my hair not just conditioned but ultra-moisturized.

What product(s) should I use during my pre-poo?
Ah's where the fun begins. When I first began to incorporate the pre-poo into my routine, I would basically just squirt a bottle of .99 cent conditioner on top of my hair. It wasn't until I conducted the Hair Fixer Experiment that I was forced to look at the pre-poo into a whole new way. If you read those posts or used Hair Fixer, you might remember that I was essentially barred from using deep conditioner for a full 6 weeks. My only recourse was to really focus on how could create a powerful pre-poo. That's when I began to experiment and get creative. Immediately I upgraded from cheap water based conditioners to more instensive ones. Since I wasn't using my "good" conditioners for their normal purposes, I started to use them before my wash. The difference I noticed was huge! In fact, I believe this shift in my routine was critical to my success with Hair Fixer.

Since then, my routine has evolved to include a myriad of pre-poo boosters. Today, I experiment with oils, powders, and other products to make my pre-poo that much more powerful. Specifically, I like to include coconut oil for it's ability to penetrate and add protein to the hair strand. Amla oil, just because it works well every time I've used it. High powered, thick conditioners because I like for my conditioners to "stick" to the hair and have a bigger impact. Additionally, sometimes I break open some vitamin e capsules or pour a few drops of honey to the mix for good measure. Pretty much anything I feel comfortable adding to my deep conditioner is fair game for my pre-poo mix.

How do I maximize the pre-poo step?

Without a doubt, the most complicated part of my weekly routine is the pre-poo. The process, has evolved so much. It's now become a mechanism to systematically erradicate hair issues and promote health above anything else I do. Just recently I shared my "strand ceremony" with you all. I can't begin to tell how how vital this process has been for my hair. I don't know about you but for the longest, I just haven't been able to make huge improvements in the health of my hair, in the past, even though I deep conditioned weekly. I believe this is because I wasn't able to master the art of impacting the individual strands that ultimately create a beautiful head of hair. The pre-poo, for me, was the ultimate answer to this dilemma. The pre-poo gives me easier accesss to smaller sections of hair because I'm better able part and apply product on dry hair versus damp, freshly washed hair.

Beyond that, I've also incorporated "deep conditoner-like" actions into my pre-poo step like sitting under my steamer. I've even gone as far as extending my pre-poo overnight. If ound that, instead of choosing one over another, combining the forces of Burt's Bees and OJON pre-shampoo treatments to create an amazing duo of pre-poo goodness. All I needed to do was add a plastic cap and some time for the products to germinate and voila! If any of you are interested in pre-pooing overnight, I find that using oil based products, like those described above, are much more powerful than water based conditioners.

I hope this was helpful to you who are still trying to figure out if the pre-poo step is even worth it for you in your routine. For me, it meant breakthough but I had to take it to the next level. Bottom line is this has been the most critical means of improving the overall health of my hair in recent months. Hopefully you will find value from my sharing so your hair will benefit as well. Got any pre-poo secrets in your routine? I'd love to hear about it!


  1. Thanks so much for this. I used to prepoo when I first started on my hair journey. But for some reason I just stopped incorporating it. Probably because I haven't set aside proper time on wash day and usually was rushing to get it finished. After reading this I have decided to incorporate it back into my regimen.

  2. Great blog, great post. Pre-poo is a must for me. I use a mixture of oils...(indian)with some added rosemary. Topped with a plastic cap...overnight. My hair is really soft as i'm shampooing it out.

  3. Let me just say that you have completely taken over my work day and even some time at home for the past couple of days! I think I read through your entire blog. I love everything you write about moisture and conditioning...and the fact that you don't protective style. Everything you write is so honest and totally backed up. Thanks for all the info! - Mona

  4. I love your blog. You always have the best posts.

    I always pre-poo when I wash and co-wash my hair. Recently, I drenched my hair and scalp in coconut oil, wrapped it in plastic wrap, covered with a plastic cap, a spandex cap and an old stocking cap. I left it on my hair for an hour or more and then washed my hair. My hair felt so soft. After reading this article, I have decided to upgrade the conditioners that I use for my pre-poos.

    Thanks ever so much for the information. Have a Merry Christmas!

  5. I’m constantly adjusting mine but I think the addition of a new detangling comb and exchanging coconut oil which I use throughtou the week with Profectiv products and adding products to small sections, and a more positive attitude and appreciation towards my hair have made a great difference. I just love the Goody Mosaic Super Detangling Comb. I purchased it at Target for $2.99 and I went back the next week for 3 more. I use one for my pre-wash and pre-relaxer rituals, one for daily use, I keep one in my purse and I got one for my mom.

    Pre-wash (usually the night before)
    Scalp – castor oil
    Roots – - Base with Profectiv Strong & Healthy Strength Anti-Breakage Leave-In
    Temple –neem oil
    Length - Comb thru with Goody Mosaic Super Detangling Comb Profectiv Mega Growth Growth Sheen sprayed comb
    Ends – Coat with rice bran oil and Profectiv Healthy Ends Anti Split & Deep Repair

    Pre-relaxer (usually the night before)
    Roots – - Base with Profectiv Strong & Healthy Strength Anti-Breakage Leave-In
    Length - Comb thru with Goody Mosaic Super Detangling Comb Profectiv Mega Growth Growth Sheen sprayed comb
    Ends - Coat with rice bran oil and Profectiv Healthy Ends Anti Split & Deep Repair

  6. Hi, does a pre-poo steaming treatment replace or supplement a post-wash deep conditioning treatment? In other words, if I pre-poo with steam do I also need to deep condition after my wash? Thanks. Wash days are so long....

  7. Hi Nadege, I do not know how I can across your Blog but I'm so glad I did. I started taking hair care seriously almost one year ago when I learned about OJON. My hair has grown from shoulder length(which it hardly grew past without having to cut due to see-through ends) to just about bra strap length. Using OJON overnight has been a major factor. I am so disappointed that the product is being phased out and so hard to find.


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